I hope you enjoy the food!!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Delivery Hero

Growing up in the 60's we watched a futuristic cartoon called the Jetsons.  Life in the future (2062) was going to be fantastic - robots like Rosie to do the cleaning for us, zipping around the sky in jet powered vehicles, and the ultimate luxury - sitting down to dinner and ordering from a computerised menu!!!

While we haven't made it to 2062 yet, and technology isn't quite as they envisaged it might be, we do have a lot of great stuff at our fingertips that we could have only dreamed about 50 years ago.

After having a pretty hectic week on the Thermomix trail this past week, I was feeling very uninspired about making dinner last night (well that and the absolute starvation from "the diet" that was addling my brain!!)  Lucky for me I had the answer but a few keystrokes away!

The lovely Kate at  Delivery Hero had been asking me for quite some time to write a guest blog for one of their sites, but of late I have barely had enough time to write my own posts, let alone anyone else's!  She was not to be deterred however by my lack of writing, and she kindly offered me a coupon to use towards a meal on their Delivery Hero Home Takeaway and Delivery Service.

You know the old saying - "don't look a gifthorse in the mouth"?

Well, I hate to speak badly of something that has been given to me, but in all fairness I think I need to tell you the difficulties that I had in ordering from Delivery Hero.

I made my first attempt last weekend.  The first attempt to order was via the iPad - there were problems with redeeming the voucher I was given, so I then attempted to complete the order on my main computer, but still with no success.

I then figured I would go the "old fashioned" route and use the phone to place my order, this would have to work!  Still no success in redeeming the voucher!  Although the friendly customer service person tried to help me, they told me that they couldn't honour the value of the voucher I had been given in one transaction.  At this point I gave up - no home delivery tonight folks! The family then jumped in the car, and off we headed to the local pub for dinner instead.  On our return home, I sent an email advising Kate of what had happened, she said there could have been a little hiccup in the system, but to please try again and all should be good.

Bring on next weekend and attempt #2!

This time I wasn't going to go the iPad route - straight to the main computer (and low and behold - my order from last week was still sitting there!!)  However, there was still no success in redeeming the coupon! It just told me that I was already an existing customer, and that this voucher was only for first time users!!!  If only I was an existing customer!!!!  Back to the phone, and some personal service.  After a minute or so of holding, they gave me a new voucher code, which funnily enough had an apology in there - but hey, who cares it eventually worked.  The next hiccup, however, was in paying for my meal.  I entered that I wanted to pay via visa - but no, this particular restaurant wanted immediate payment - so this meant I had to use either cash or paypal!  Paypal it will have to be then!

Now, I know it was a Saturday night, but....... we waited almost an hour (55 minutes to be exact) for the delivery to arrive.  Neither at point of entry, nor mid way through the waiting time, did we receive an email or notification of any kind telling us what the anticipated wait time would be.  Finally though after what seemed like a lifetime, and after I was just about to chew my arm off and eat it, our dinner arrived!!!

The next part has nothing at all to do with Delivery Hero - but - my plastic carry bag was full of the liquid that had escaped from my Jungle Curry, and all of the food was lukewarm at best.  So while my rumbling tummy was satiated, it wasn't the greatest of experiences all round.

So the end verdict?

I think Delivery Hero is a great concept, and probably in an area other than mine (Wahroonga - where there is little in the way of restaurant choices) it would be a fantastic tool to have at your fingertips.  I am sure that if there weren't the issues in redeeming the discount voucher, the procedure to order would be very quick and simple.  Would I try it again?  Yes, I probably would.  I have ordered from a competitor before and had success - so on a level playing field I can't see why Delivery Hero cannot be just as good.

I would like to thank the lovely people (Kate) at Delivery Hero for giving me the opportunity to try their service, and for giving me a discount voucher to use towards the purchase of our meal.

I would love to hear from any readers who have tried this service before, and what their experience was.

So will we ever see the lifestyle that they predicted in the Jetsons for the year 2062? Me, I am not likely to find out, not unless they add jet powered wheelchairs to their modes of transport!!!!

One thing they didn't predict too well - our almost cashless society!!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Salmon with Roasted Tomato Salsa, Creamed Corn and Virtual Bacon Dust

When we use the term "virtual" what exactly do we mean?

The Merriam Webster Dictionary gives the following definitions for virtual:

- being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted

- of, or relating to, or using virtual memory

- being on or simulated on a computer or computer network......

Wikipedia gives a definition that I like:

Virtuality, the quality of having the attributes of something without sharing its (real or imagined) physical form.

So bearing this all in mind, I kind of felt that in order to prepare last night's meal I should perhaps be donning a lab coat and protective eyewear, rather than the usual apron!

Virtual Bacon Dust???  What exactly is it?  What is it made of?  We have been bouncing the term around a little in Thermomix circles of late, as it is a recipe that is featured in the new Dani Valent Cookbook.  What exactly is it though?  I must say my interest was piqued when Madame T mentioned to me that we might be able to make it in an upcoming cooking class.  My hand shot up immediately!!  I'll make that!!!  As it turned out, it wasn't allowed for the that particular menu, but I was not to be deterred.  I decided I would add it to my own personal menu for the weekend!

The ingredients came as a little bit of a surprise, as did the results.

I am going to give you the recipe as it is printed.

Virtual Bacon Dust
Recipe by George Calombaris, printed in In The Mix Cookbook, by Dani Valent

100g brown sugar
100g sesame seeds
100g dashi

Preheat the grill - if you have a temperature setting - to 150 degrees

In a bowl combine the brown sugar, sesame seeds and dashi powder.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper.  Spread the mixture evenly over the prepared tray.

Place under the grill, stirring whenever it starts to caramelise.  After each stir, spread the ingredients as thin as possible to ensure they cook evenly.

When the mixture has caramelised, set aside to cool completely.

When cool place in the Thermomix bowl and blend for 20 seconds on speed 10.

Note:  This caramelises very quickly.  You need to stay close by, and stir often.

Unless you are catering for "The Press Club" or plan to eat this with "virtually" everything for the next 6 months, I highly recommend halving the recipe!!!

What I found amazing was the transformation that occurred with these ingredients.  I wish I had taken a before and after shot.  On the baking tray you had this mixture which looked like - what it was - sesame seeds and bits of burnt sugar, but after processing - it changed colour - to a, well, cooked bacon colour!  I took the lid off and exclaimed - WOW!  Stuck my finger in, tasted it, and said OMG - it tastes like bacon!!!

So what would you use this on?  A garnish for soups - such as pumpkin, cauliflower.  Sprinkled on scrambled eggs, caesar salads, green salads.  Grilled chicken - for that BLT flavour.....I guess the list is endless.  George pairs it with a decadent pumpkin soup.

I chose to make my own creamed corn, and of course garnished it with the virtual bacon dust.

Creamed Corn
Adapted from recipe found in Good Food Magazine, March Edition

Serves 4-6

6 corn cobs, husks and silks removed
100g light cooking cream
15g butter
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn cobs in a large saucepan of boiling water for 20 minutes.  Drain, and cool the corn until it is cool enough to handle.  Using a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cobs.  Place the kernels in the TM bowl.  Add the cream, butter and salt and pepper.  Process on speed 9 for 20 seconds, or until creamed to desired consistency.

To heat up, cook for 9 minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse Speed 1.

Roasted Tomato Salsa
Adapted from recipe found in Good Food Magazine, March Edition

400g tomato medley mix, large tomatoes, halved
250g cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt flakes

Preheat oven to 200 degrees (fan forced).

Combine all the above ingredients in a disposable foil baking tray.  Roast the tomato mixture in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are nice and soft, and split, when slight pressure is applied.

For the salmon, I am going to suggest an alternate method than what was offered in the magazine.  I found that the salmon cooked their way, was too dry for my liking.  I think that I would almost rather pan fry the fish totally.  Cooking skin side down first for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin is brown and crispy.  Then flip over and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.

This however, is what they suggested:

Pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Rub with oil, and season.  Heat a frying pan on high.  Cook skin side down for 3-4 minutes, until skin is brown and crispy.  Turn and cook for 1 minute.  Transfer salmon, skin side up to a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper.  Cool slightly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

When you place the tomato salsa in the oven place the salsa on the bottom shelf, and the salmon on the top shelf.  Cook for 10 minutes.

I found that the 10 minutes was not enough for the tomato mixture, and too much for the salmon!  You decide your method of cooking - but I know what I will do next time around!!!

So how was it??  Well the creamed corn with the bacon dust was great - in fact it would make an excellent breakfast food, alongside a lovely poached egg, and some homemade toast.  How smug would you feel about that!!

The salsa and the salmon - a lovely combination.  So all in all, a wining combination!!!

While it did look like a big meal, with components that were a little on the naughty side - the scales still dropped this morning!!!!  So it couldn't have been too bad!!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chicken Cacciatore in the Thermomix

Sometimes all you need is a little pat on the back to give you the motivation you need to keep on going.

This week was the annual pilgrimage out to the Children's Hospital for the usual pokes, prods, and WEIGH IN for "The Child Who Cannot Be Filled!". The words the doctors uttered were not so much the pat on the back I needed, although I was told that all things considered we were traveling very well along the bumpy road of Prader Willi Syndrome. It was more the look of utter disbelief that I encountered when I met up with a doctor, and please excuse me if that is it not your actual title, you probably are a Professor now! But anyway, when I ran across this particular medical professional in the stairwell, as we travelled between appointments, to say that she literally had to pick up her jaw up off the floor would be a little bit of an understatement. She could not believe that this child that had been given the sentence of "PWS" 14 years ago, was the same child/young man that stood/towered above her now!

The look on her face, was the pat on the back that I needed to say "hey you are doing a great job". It made it seem like all the hard, hard work that I have put into the last 14 years have not been in vain.

As you face these hurdles in life, you often belittle the hardships and challenges you face? Do you take it all in your stride, buckle down and just get on with the job at hand? Do you say to yourself, it's not that bad, it could be worse, what am I complaining about? Sometimes though, inevitably, you leave to take stock, and you realize that what you are actually doing is in fact something out of the norm.

So as I face the week with a renewed sense of self. I pat myself on the back and say "good work, you are doing ok!"

After we came back from the hospital "The Child Who Cannot Be Filled" was also feeling pretty good about himself, so we sat down to a meal that night without a challenge. He seemed to understand (maybe) the reasons why the meals etc are the way they are. He accepted that he could have a massive plate full of food, if it was the right kind meal! So we had a beautiful Chicken Cacciatore, with a mega serve of vegetables!  Everybody was happy!

Chicken Cacciatore
Original Recipe by CateCanCook

Serves 6

1kg Chicken Breast, sliced into 2cm thick pieces
1 onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
100g pancetta, roughly chopped
1kg tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 carrots, sliced thickly
10g oregano leaves
1tbs TM concentrated vegetable stock
100g white wine
200g swiss brown mushrooms, quartered
olives (if desired)

Place the pancetta into the TM bowl, pulse on turbo twice (1 second each).  Remove from bowl, set aside.  Place the onion and garlic in the TM bowl, chop on speed 7 for 3 seconds.  Add a small amount of olive oil.  Saute for 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1 (with the MC off).  Add the pancetta, and saute for an additional 2 minutes at 100 degrees on speed 1.

Add the roughly chopped tomatoes, stock concentrate, oregano leaves and wine, and cook for 20 minutes at 100 degrees on Reverse, Speed Soft, with the basket over the lid to stop any splatters.

Place the sliced chicken in the varoma tray and receptacle, making sure you don't cover all the holes.

Add the carrots and mushrooms to the tomato mixture in the TM bowl.  Place the varoma on top of the TM bowl.

Cook for 45 minutes at varoma temperature on Reverse, Speed Soft.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Place the tomato mixture into a prewarmed (put boiling water in it for 5-10 minutes).  Add the chicken and mix through.

At this point you could either then steam your vegetables in the varoma, by putting 1 litre of boiling water into the TM bowl, and cooking for 30 minutes at varoma temperature on speed 4.  OR you may just wish to steam your vegetables separately.

If you are not on a low carb diet, serve with some steamed rice.

This was an incredibly satisfying meal, and you really did not feel deprived by not having the rice with it.  The best part though - the scales continued to decline in numbers the next day too!!!

So another pat on the back!!!

So Dear Readers how do you face those tough obstacles in life?  Do you buckle down, or buckle in?  It's OK either way!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Asian Style Pork Chops on Wilted Asian Greens

This is pure agony!!! As I type and look at the photos of this meal my belly is rumbling.  I didn't think that I was hungry, but obviously my stomach thinks differently!!!

Why is dieting so hard?  Why can't I just use zen thoughts to whittle away the kilos??  How long am I going to have to deprive myself for??

I know, it's all of my own doing - the love of food ultimately leads to an increase of girth, but why, oh why is it so hard to remove those few extra indulgences?  Why cant, say one week of really hard dieting remove - oh 5-10 kilos!!  Wouldn't that be nice???  I have been really good this last week, but the numbers coming off are oh so slow!!  I am finding myself during late afternoon almost beside myself.  "The Darlings" come in from school and cook up popcorn, have chocolate paddle pops, or whatever, and I just want to gnaw off my arm at the elbow (but then I have to tell myself - that isn't going to help - it's protein, and you will just have to have less at dinner time!!!)  So I console myself with a cup of miso soup, and countless glasses of water in an effort to distract myself from thoughts of real food.

Finally dinner time rolls around, here is what I had the other night!

Asian Style Pork Chops with Wilted Asian Greens
Adapted from Taste.com.au

Serves 4-6

8 Pork Cutlets
2 tbs brown sugar
8 whole star anise
2 tbs finely grated ginger
2 tbs rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup light soy sauce

Wilted Asian Greens
1 bunch asparagus, cut in half
1 bunch gai choy, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
1 bunch bok choy, ends trimmed, coarsely chopped
1/2 wombok cabbage, shredded
1 tbs sesame seeds

Combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, star anise, ginger, vinegar and oil in a large ziploc bag.  Add the pork, and allow to marinate for at least 3 hours, or longer if possible, to allow the flavours to develop.

Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.  Place the pork chops from the marinade, and place in a disposable foil baking tray (gets you out of the kitchen faster - less washing up!!!).  Place the reserved marinade in a saucepan.  Place the pork chops in the oven, and cook for 20 minutes.  ** Remove from the oven, and cover with foil to keep warm while you are cooking the veggies.

 **Add approximately 1/4 cup of water to the marinade, and bring to the boil.  Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened slightly.

To cook the greens, heat the wok over medium high heat, and gently toast the sesame seeds.  Remove to a plate.

Add the chopped green vegetables, and a small amount of water.  Toss gently until they are just wilted.

Place the wilted greens on a plate, sprinkle over the sesame seeds, then top with a pork chop.

For those not counting their carbs, add a serving of steamed rice.

So did this put the monsters to bay?  Yes, having a huge amount of veggies certainly fills up the belly in the short term - but I find after a while I am hungry again - so my remedy - clean your teeth, and off to bed to read!!!

It's only 60 more days til I go away, will I last?

So Dear Readers, do you have any diet tips, or recipes you would like to pass along?  Please share!!!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Blackened Salmon with Corn Salsa

I know, I seem to have let the side down in regards to posting lately, but really, I have had serious technical issues with posting.  I still am none the wiser as to what is going on, or should I say what I am doing wrong, so I am going back to the old tried and true method of posting today.

As I am now on the countdown to my trip to Italy, I am starting to curb the carbs in an effort to try and loose a little weight before I head off on my eating trip!!  I figure loose it now, so that I have some room to gain it back - but looking at my itinerary I am secretly hoping that we are on the move so much that we will walk off all that we eat!!!  To say that I am getting a little excited is a little bit of an underestimation.  I had to drag myself off the internet searching out ways to maximise my experience while away - The Sistine Chapel at dawn, The Colosseum at Night - because you see I just have to fit these things around my walking/eating tour of Rome and then and walk and wine tour of Tuscany!!!  Sounds hard to take doesn't it?  I really shouldn't brag, but I feel that  this trip has been such a long time coming, and I really deserve it - I  have saved my pennies for several years, and yes it's a luxury few can do - but what the hell I'm doing it!!  I will post a direction to the blog that I will write while I am away for those of you that are interested in following my adventure!

So what was on the menu last night in light of this new diet?

Blackened Salmon with Corn Salsa
Adapted from recipe found on Taste.com.au

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets (tail pieces are best as they have no bones!)

1 tbs sweet paprika
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1/4 tsp salt

Corn Salsa

4 cobs corn
2 spring onions (green kind) cut into 4cm pieces
1/2 large green capsicum, cut into 5cm chunks
2-4 ripe tomatoes (depending on size), finely chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the paprika, oregano, thyme, peppers and salt in the Thermomix bowl.  Grind on speed 9 for 20 seconds.  Scrape down the bowl and repeat until you have a finely textured powder.  Place the spice mixture on a large plate until required.

Meanwhile to make the corn salsa.   Remove the corn kernels from the cobs by using a sharp knife, and running it lengthways down the cob.  Cook the kernels in a large saucepan of boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Refresh under cold water, and drain well.

Place the green onions in the TM bowl, pulse on turbo twice for 2 seconds each.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add the capsicum pieces.  Pulse on turbo 2-3 times, for 2 seconds each, until you have a rough chop.  Place the mixture in a large bowl.  If there are any large pieces left, return them to the bowl and pulse once more.  If the mixture is too "liquidy", remove the excess liquid.

Add the corn and diced tomato to the capsicum mixture.  Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper and mix well.

To cook the salmon, firstly coat both sides of the salmon in the spice mixture.  Preheat a large frypan to high heat.  Add a little olive oil, and then place the salmon skin side down first.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.  Turn over and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until cooked to your liking.  Remember that salmon is at it's best if slightly rare in the middle!!!

Place the corn salsa on the plates, then top with a salmon fillet. If you are not on a low carb diet you may wish to include some smashed roasted potatoes.

Wow, this was a lovely fresh dinner.  I ate so much of the corn salsa - but I still managed to have the scales reading in the right direction this morning!

I will endeavour to post as often as I can, but I am only eating vegies, vegies vegies at the moment so the posts may not be too exciting!!!!  Its all in the name of the carb fest that is to come soon!!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Soy and Lemongrass Prawns

I seem to have been having lots of problems with this post.  Normally I would just post another, and get on with it..... But I thought this recipe was too good to get forgotten.

The audioscape to life outside my bedroom window is constantly changing.  For days on end (it actually seems like weeks!) All we have heard is the monotony of constant rainfall.  The rain has been falling so intensely at times, that when you looked out you felt like you were within a wall of water.  I should explain here, you see I live in a treehouse, well not an actual treehouse per se, but more like a house seemingly suspended up within the trees. My "treehouse" does not have regular walls as most people have, instead we have glass walls, so hence when it rains, you feel like you are living within the rain (for the most part we manage to stay dry, that is except for times when the velocity of water is so great that it has nowhere else to go but within our abode.)

The rain when it falls like it has of late, is noisy to say the least, as it beats on all surfaces around us.  At times it sounds like you are living within a rainforest during monsoon season.  It makes rivers wherever it can just to escape, and waterfalls where there was once a trickle of water!  Just beyond my bedroom window there is what we loving refer to as "the creek".  It's not really a creek, just an easement drain really, but of late you could be confused into thinking it is the Zambezi River heading over Victoria Falls!

Once the rains abate the waterfall continues on its merry course for several. This is the view from my bedroom! The "creek" is hiding in those trees!

They say the sound of water is soothing, but this just sounds angry at times, as it fights it's way down the ravine.  As the velocity of water decreases the wildlife starts to return. The first day or so after the waters subside the frogs come out in full force. The cacophony of their singing made it difficult to sleep the other night!  Oh, how the frogs love this weather!  Not to worry though, they only stay for a day or two, and life returns back to normal, they go back to whence they came, and the usual noises can be heard, today it is the sounds of real summer, the crickets, and the usual bird noises!

It was during one of these lulls in the rain that I decided to take advantage of the break in the weather and light up the barbecue. There haven't been too many "barbies" here this summer I can tell you!

I have had my eye on a recipe I found in the January issue of the SBS magazine "Feast".  Last night seemed as good a night as any to try it out!

Soy and Lemongrass Prawns

Adapted from recipe found in Feast Magazine, January edition

Serves 4

2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, roughly chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1 long red chilli, chopped
4 cloves of garlic
4cm piece of ginger, peeled, sliced
1 large bunch of mint, leaves only
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbs Japanese soy sauce
1 kg green prawns, peeled, leaving tails intact

Sweet Soy Dressing

4 tbs Mirin
4 tbs Japanese soy sauce
4 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp sesame oil

Place the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chill, garlic, ginger, mint, both oils, and the soy sauce into either a food processor, or the Thermomix.  Process on speed 8 for 10 seconds.  Scrape down bowl and repeat until all ingredients are finely chopped.

Place the mixture into a large ziploc bag.  Add the prawns and mix well.  Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour, longer if time permits.

To make the dressing, whisk together the Mirin, soy sauce, sugar and oil in a bowl.

When ready to cook the prawns, thread them onto skewers.

Preheat the BBQ over high heat.  Cook the prawns, turning occassionally, for 4 minutes, or until pink and cooked through.

Serve with sushi style rice, and cucumber ribbons and pickled ginger.

Sushi style rice

400g sushi rice
2 tbs Mirin

Place the steaming basket in the Thermomix bowl. Weigh in 400g of sushi rice. Remove the basket, and rinse the rice well under running water. Place the basket with the rice back into the Thermomix.  Add 1 tsp of salt, and 900g of water. Cook the rice for 16 minutes at varoma temperature on speed 4.  Remove the basket, using the spatula, from the Thermomix bowl.  Place the rice, and a small amount of the cooking water in a large bowl.  Cover with glad wrap, and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes, or until all the water has absorbed.

Add the mirin, and using the spatula mix it gently through the rice.

For the cucumber ribbons I just used a vegetable peeler, and peeled long pieces from the sides of the cucumber, making sure not to get the seeds! I tossed these in a bowl with the pickled ginger and a small amount of sushi vinegar.

It was lovely to enjoy a BBQ in the dry last night, but I am not holding my breath that we have seen the last of the rain. You see school goes back tomorrow, and I will bet my last dollar that it will rain at 3 o'clock on the dot, just as the kids are making their way home from school!

On that note, "the Darlings" have their first day at high school tomorrow! & Oh my, where have the years gone? Life in this house is about to get exciting, all those testosterone fueled fights that are heading our way! Better batten down the hatches!

As a post script to this post, I have to report that all went well the first week at high school!  Both now have "girlfriends", and all's good with the world!  Tomorrow "The Darlings" turn 12, not babies anymore!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Technical issues!

Dear Readers I seem to be experiencing technical issues. Please bear with me while I try to resolve them. I hope to a resolution soon! Any advice on blogger and iPads would be greatly appreciated!

Talk with you soon.